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Top free agent forwards: Panarin on the market

Duchene, Lee, Zuccarello among those available

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

With free agency about to begin, there are several teams in the market for a forward who can boost them into a Stanley Cup contender.

Today, takes a closer look at the top unrestricted free agent forwards expected to be available when the market opens:


Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets

Arguably the prize of the entire free agent market, the 27-year-old led the Blue Jackets in scoring with 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists), 18 more than Cam Atkinson, who was second. Panarin, who hasn't scored fewer than 27 goals in any of his four NHL seasons, had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help Columbus win a postseason series for the first time in its history with a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Possible landing spots: New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm4: Panarin taps loose puck past Rask


Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets

Duchene also played a huge role in the Blue Jackets qualifying for the playoffs and winning their series against the Lightning. Acquired by Columbus in a trade from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 22, the 28-year-old had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 10 playoff games after he scored an NHL career-high 31 goals and tied his career high with 70 points in 73 regular-season games. Duchene, who is tied for eighth in the NHL in face-off winning percentage (56.8 percent) among those with at least 3,500 draws since the 2015-16 season, has 547 points (232 goals, 315 assists) in 727 NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Senators and Avalanche.

Possible landing spots: Nashville Predators, Blue Jackets, Islanders, Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm2: Duchene wins it in 2OT on power play


Anders Lee, New York Islanders

Given the task of replacing John Tavares as Islanders captain at the start of this season, Lee excelled and helped New York surpass expectations by not only qualifying for the playoffs but advancing to the Eastern Conference Second Round. Lee, who turns 29 on July 3, has scored 102 goals the past three seasons (13th in the NHL) and has arguably evolved into one of the top power forwards in the NHL.

Possible landing spots: Islanders, Minnesota Wild, Devils, Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues


Ryan Dzingel, Columbus Blue Jackets

Much like Duchene, Dzingel played a vital role with the Blue Jackets down the stretch, with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 21 regular-season games after being acquired in a trade from the Senators on Feb. 23. The 27-year-old set NHL career highs in goals (26) and points (56) this season. He has 138 points (66 goals, 72 assists) in 268 NHL games.

Possible landing spots: Blackhawks, Blues, Blue Jackets, Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Panthers


Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

It's hard to imagine Pavelski playing anywhere but San Jose, which selected him in the seventh round (No. 205) of the 2003 NHL Draft. Pavelski, who has been Sharks captain since Oct. 5, 2015, and will turn 35 on July 11, has played in 963 NHL regular-season games and 134 playoff games with San Jose. He led the Sharks with 38 goals this season.

Possible landing spots: Sharks, Stars, Lightning, Wild, Panthers, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Flyers, Hurricanes, Blues, Predators

Video: COL@SJS, Gm7: Pavelski nets tip in return to lineup


Gustav Nyquist, San Jose Sharks

Nyquist, who turns 30 on Sept. 1, helped the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Final after he was acquired in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 24, with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 19 regular-season games and 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 20 playoff games. Nyquist, a fourth-round pick by the Red Wings (No. 121) in the 2008 NHL Draft, had an NHL career-high 60 points (22 goals, 38 assists) in 81 games this season, scoring at least 20 goals for the fourth time.

Possible landing spots: Sharks, Rangers, Islanders, Wild, Hurricanes, Senators, Avalanche


Mats Zuccarello, Dallas Stars

Zuccarello, who turns 32 on Sept. 1, got off to a rough start after being traded to the Stars by the Rangers on Feb. 23, breaking his arm blocking a shot the following day in his first game with Dallas. Zuccarello returned April 2 and had one goal and two assists in two regular-season games for Stars. He was a big producer in the playoffs with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 games. If Zuccarello re-signs with Dallas, the third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft it gave New York will become a first-round selection.

Possible landing spots: Stars, Rangers, Hurricanes, Panthers, Senators, Vancouver Canucks, Devils, Red Wings, Canadiens

Video: DAL@STL, Gm7: Zuccarello scores off favorable bounce


Wayne Simmonds, Nashville Predators

Simmonds, who turns 31 on Aug. 26, scored one goal in 17 games for Nashville after being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia on Feb. 25, then missed four of its six games in the Western Conference First Round because of a lower-body injury. Still, when healthy, Simmonds provides leadership and a net-front presence, particularly on the power play. He has 474 points (243 goals, 231 assists) in 841 NHL games with the Predators, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings.

Possible landing spots: Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Avalanche, Senators, Blues


Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes

Williams did a marvelous job as Hurricanes captain this season, helping them qualify for the playoffs and reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2009. Williams, who turns 38 on Oct. 4, scored at least 20 goals for the seventh time in the NHL (23 goals, 30 assists) and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 15 playoff games.

Possible landing spots: Hurricanes, Islanders, Washington Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Rangers, Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Panthers

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Williams scores on redirection in 3rd


Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Although Thornton's bid to win the Stanley Cup for the first time fell short when the Sharks were eliminated by the Blues in the conference final, he showed he still can contribute. Thornton, who turns 40 on July 2, had 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 73 regular-season games and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 19 playoff games. Thornton loves life in California, and in May he said that he's "a Shark," so it's hard to envision him going far (if anywhere) if he does continue playing. Thornton has 1,478 points (413 goals, 1,065 assists) in 1,566 regular-season games and 133 points (31 goals, 102 assists) in 179 playoff games with the Sharks and Bruins.

Possible landing spots: Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, Stars, Panthers


Patrick Marleau, Carolina Hurricanes

Marleau, who turns 40 on Sept. 15, became a free agent when the Hurricanes bought out the final season of his three-year contract on June 27. He had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) for the Maple Leafs this season. 

Before signing with Toronto two offseasons ago, Marleau played 19 seasons for the Sharks and could return there. He is the San Jose leader in games (1,493), goals (508) and points (1,082), and has played 788 consecutive games.

Possible landing spots: Sharks, Kings, Ducks


Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

The 34-year-old had the final two seasons of his eight-year contract bought out by the Ducks on June 19. 
He was limited to 31 games this season, his 14th with Anaheim, after recovering from surgery on his right knee and had 10 points (six goals, four assists).

Perry hasn't scored more than 19 goals since 2015-16, when he scored 34, his sixth season with at least 30.

Perry led NHL with 50 goals in 2010-11 and became the only player in Ducks history to win the Hart Trophy, voted regular-season MVP.

Possible landing spots: Penguins, Flyers, Wild, Lightning, Senators, Oilers, Sabres


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